Monday, November 29, 2010
Lame Ducks Threaten Economic Recovery
By Alan Caruba
As if the forcing of Obamacare on a nation vastly opposed to it was not enough, the lame duck session of Congress between now and December 31st has the potential to harm economic recovery still more.
Congress includes sixty Democrat Representatives in the House who will not be returning and six in the Senate who were also voted out of office or who have announced their retirement. If the world made any sense, none would be permitted to vote on anything at this point.
If, indeed, Congress functioned in a reasoned and rational fashion, the nation would not be forced to wait until the last month of the year for it to resolve a range of fiscal and other issues despite the fact that Fiscal 2011 has begun. It has not passed a budget and it will need to pass a continuing resolution to fund the federal government until it does.
Americans and the business community in particular are still waiting to see if Congress will extend the Bush tax rates. They have been in effect for nine years. Everyone understands maintaining the existing rates is essential to avoid worsening an ailing economy.
For the President and Democrats in Congress, the issue has to do with “billionaires” and “millionaires” when the real issue is whether small to medium-sized businesses will be able to hire and expand. The issue is whether millions of Americans who are still employed will see their take-home pay reduced in January by additional taxes. It’s worth noting that those high earners already pay some 70% of the income taxes collected every year.
Another problem is Sen. Harry Reid’s intention to bring the “Dream Act”, yet another amnesty effort, to a vote. Here again, Americans overwhelmingly oppose any easing of laws regarding illegal aliens.
Democrats are also discussing a ban on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, a policy that permits gays to serve in the military, but to keep their silence regarding their sexual orientation. In an all-volunteer military corps morale should trump this issue, but thanks to political correctness, it does not.
Medicare, who most agree was in need of repair, but not the bureaucratic monster of Obamacare, is required to reduce reimbursement rates for physicians every year and, to avoid that, Congress has always passed legislation to avoid the cut, called “the doctor’s fix.” If Congress does nothing in the lame duck session, reimbursement rates would plunge 23 percent. Those on Medicare would have to dig into personal funds as doctors would understandably raise their fees to make up for the loss.
The extension of unemployment insurance is going to prove a very difficult issue, which is why the Democrat-controlled Congress put it off until after the elections. Benefits averaging $310 per week are due to expire on November 30 and this affects some two million Americans. It is a disincentive to seeking employment.
Republicans and a contingent of Democrats are demanding that the cost of extending unemployment compensation be financed through budget cuts, but how does Congress achieve any savings when Obamacare creates a federal bureaucracy of more than 150,000 new employees? It will even provide insurance to non-U.S. residents whether they are here illegally or not. If that’s not bad enough, it gives the government real-time access to your bank account and the authority to make electronic fund transfers from it! That's not government, that's gangsterism.
Outside of Congress, another threat exists in the form of the Environmental Protection Agency’s illegal and obscene effort to regulate “greenhouse gas” emissions. The agency plans to initiate this power grab by January 2nd and it must be stopped.
After an orgy of borrowing for stimulus legislation that has failed to generate new jobs, the further devaluation of the U.S. dollar looms as the Federal Reserve undertakes a second “quantitative easing.” The first did not increase bank loans to businesses and others. The Russians and Chinese have just announced they will conduct bilateral trade using their own currencies, not the U.S. dollar that until now has been the global standard.
Further threatening an economic apocalypse is the question of whether more European nations will join the ranks of failed economies from Greece to Ireland to Spain and Portugal. England and France are imposing much needed budget cuts while Germany, the strongest European economy, appears to be understandably reluctant to bail out the Euro.
The arrogance and incompetence of the Democrat Congress and Administration defy the imagination and the clear intention of a growing legend of Americans is to put an end to their liberal legislative abominations.
© Alan Caruba, 2010